The Poverty Olympics

From actual poverty to mental health and more, people seem to want to come in first, even if that means being in the worst position.

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The Poverty Olympics

Karrie Norton, Editor

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A rising trend online and human interactions is the act of one-upping other people, people you don’t know, and even on topics that shouldn’t be considered a competition. This extends from who grew up less privileged, who has the worst health, how little you can afford, and any other topic you can even imagine.
This trend seems to correlate with the increasing amount of comfort that people have with speaking about hardships that they have faced; whether that’s mental health, poverty, sexuality and coming out, and so many other life events. This is arguably a positive thing that brings people comfort in knowing that they’re not alone and they are heard, yet it seems that people are possibly taking advantage of people being open.
For example, if one person were to speak on how they grew up under the poverty line, someone might try to “one-up” their experiences. If someone may say that they didn’t eat out, a poverty olympian could say they didn’t have food.
The entire point they try to put across is that they struggled too, or even more than others. Though it may seem innocent enough and like the person is only trying to relate and share, it’s more harmful (and annoying) than people may realize.
The result is people who grew up around the upper-middle class, and others depending on what you’re speaking on (neurotypicals v. mental health, POC v. White people, & more), or simply more privileged individuals, trying to squeeze themselves into spaces that were not made for them. It almost seems like struggling is something that is sought after.
It may seem as though this is a new phenomenon, but could this possibly be human nature wanting to fit in and be seen as a sort of underdog? The first example that may be thought of is baby boomers. When millennials started complaining about how expensive things were and how they could never afford to buy a house or go to higher schooling without loans, the Boomers swooped in with a, “back in my day,” to show how they also struggled but succeeded. Though when looking at inflation rates and the cost of homes, schools, and consumer goods were much lower, and the fact that minimum wage hasn’t been raised with the rate of inflation, one could argue that generations before had it easier. This relates to the Poverty Olympics in that older generations are claiming they struggled harder than younger people today, without taking their privileges into account.
Although human nature or whatever answer may fit the question as to why this trend has been occurring now, and for generations before for all we know, it almost helps open up the topic of helping those who have struggled in whatever way life has dealt. Having conversations about poverty, mental health, physical health, POC, gender, and so much more helps us find ways to fix these problems as a society, as many times society has a stigma or bias or some other form of oppression on these communities.
Having conversations about these topics and problems is the first step to helping alleviate the pain and problems associated with these topics. Talking about poverty could potentially lead people to create more programs and put funding towards helping those under the poverty line. Being open about mental and physical health helps both those who suffer from those inflictions and those who study them to further understand and solve those issues.
The first step in any situation, just to talk about it. So although some take it as a way to feed their competitiveness, this could possibly be changing the way society views hard to deal with subjects.

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